Few public golf courses offer the design balance and shot values of The Orchards Golf Club, located less than an hour's drive from Detroit. On the clearest days, golfers standing on the first tee can view the skyscrapers that define the "Motor City" skyline. Perennially ranked as the best public course in southern Michigan, The Orchards feels far more rural than its urban proximity would suggest.
This playable layout wanders across 525 rolling acres dotted with lakes, wetlands, tall prairie grasses, and the mature apple orchards for which the club was named. Ninety-three flash-faced bunkers anchor the routing, which creeps in and out of dense hardwood forests and undulating meadows that were cleared as farmland long ago. Golfers enjoying the course and its setting would be surprised to learn that the ground below the site serves as a natural gas storage facility, which presented some unique design challenges. Reminiscent of the top private clubs built during golf course architecture's classic era, The Orchards is an organic routing fit perfectly into its setting.
Full of strategic options, The Orchards invites golfers to play each hole in any of a number of ways. Greens are canted as well as sloped, forcing you to deliberate over the best angle of approach. Many pin positions welcome bump-and-run shots, and course conditioning is firm and fast to support this architectural goal.
The 577-yard third hole, peppered with thirteen bunkers, offers a strategic dilemma; golfers who hope to reach the green in two must flirt with a large carry over wetlands and then attempt a daring strike at a putting surface fronted by five sandy hazards. The back nine begins in meadowlands before darting into the forest. Number thirteen, a 382-yard dogleg through trees, calls for a carry over wetlands off the tee and an approach struck between two trees fronting the narrow, bunkerless putting surface. Following a gorgeous par three that favors a running approach hit from right to left, the course finishes back in meadows, where it began.